What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations. But in some cases, it becomes excessive and can cause sufferers to dread everyday situations.

This type of steady, all-over anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Other anxiety-related disorders include panic attacks—severe episodes of anxiety which happen in response to specific triggers—and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is marked by persistent intrusive thoughts or compulsions to carry out specific behaviors (such as hand-washing).

Anxiety so frequently co-occurs with depression that the two are thought to be twin faces of one disorder. Like depression, it strikes twice as many females as males.

Generally, anxiety arises first, often during childhood. Evidence suggests that both biology and environment can contribute to the disorder. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety; however, this does not make development of the condition inevitable. Early traumatic experiences can also reset the body’s normal fear-processing system so that it is hyper-reactive to stress.

The exaggerated worries and expectations of negative outcomes in unknown situations that typify anxiety are often accompanied by physical symptoms. These include muscle tension, headaches, stomach cramps, and frequent urination. Behavioral therapies, with or without medication to control symptoms, have proved highly effective against anxiety, especially in children.

Recent posts on Anxiety

The Surprising Emotion Behind Anxiety

Are you seething inside but acting cool on the outside? Learn how to safely let go of your controlled demeanor, and communicate honestly and directly.

Is the World More Dangerous Now Than Ever?

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on July 24, 2016 in Excellent Beauty
Fear of violence seems to be governing our lives these days. But should it? Could the world actually be safer now than it has ever been?

The Problem with Obstacles

I recently wanted to prescribe a medication called Prevacid for a patient. It's a proton pump inhibitor that shuts off acid production in the stomach.

We Worry About the Wrong Things

Five examples of how our minds get hung up on things that are unlikely to affect us, and overlook things more likely to matter.

Am I Messing Up My Kid?

With all the advice out there it's easy to have unfair and unrealistic expectations for yourself and your children. Recognizing the good in what you do will ease the pressure.

Sexual Freedom: Only Part of the Equation for LGBTQ Refugees

LGBTQ refugees continue to experience social isolation, perpetuating a sense of danger and persecution.

Fear Keeps Depression in Place

Fear of success is sometimes a bigger obstacle than fear of failure.

How Couples Misunderstand Each Other

A heart-breaking experience of counseling couples is seeing good people suffer due to the entirely avoidable illusion of sameness.

The Pressures of Social Media: Should I Disconnect?

Some people talk about giving up social media as the answer to the always-on pressures of connectivity. A better solution is "Social Media Mindfulness."

Feeling a Fraud? It's Not Your Fault!

By Katherine Hawley Ph.D. on July 19, 2016 in Trust
What if a toxic workplace environment is making you feel like an imposter?

I Cannot Do It All

By Colleen Long Psy.D. on July 19, 2016 in The Happiness Rx
Dr. Colleen Long is a psychologist and a mom who has come to the conclusion that one simply cannot have it all

Living a Mindful Life Will Help in This Chaotic World!

By Lori Russell-Chapin Ph.D. on July 18, 2016 in Brain Waves
Is it possible to live a mindful life in our chaotic world?
Fotolia

What is the Fundamental Key to Happiness?

The key ingredients to achieving happiness are twofold, yet they are really two faces of the same coin.

New Research Asks, “Does Why You Look at Porn Matter?”

A new study links “escapist porn use” to negative life consequences.

The Beautiful Randomness of the Band Suicide

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on July 18, 2016 in Brick by Brick
When describing hardcore punk music, Lester Bangs wrote that “hardcore is the womb.”

The Social Network of Food

By Nicole Avena Ph.D. on July 17, 2016 in Food Junkie
Negotiating for support can be especially important when you are trying to make some dietary/lifestyle changes.

The Missing Word Is Panic.

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on July 16, 2016 in A Swim in Denial
When aggression triggers a moral reflex, it can be blinding. We use it routinely to pump up heroic violence.

We're Splitting Up!

By Nick Luxmoore on July 16, 2016 in Young People Up Close
If adults can't contain their own tendencies to split, then what hope is there for young people?

Empathy Makes All the Difference-Part 2

When we cultivate empathy, the part of us that tends to be judgmental diminishes and other people immediately sense the shift in our attitude.

Are Antidepressant Medications the Next Drug Abuse Epidemic?

Congress passed legislation this week to slow the epidemic of pain-killer addiction. What could also slow the epidemic of drug use for treating the emotional pain of depression?

The Toughest Part of Pokémon Go: Stopping

The wildly popular game is prompting exercise and sociability. But there might be another effect: addiction.

Mindfulness: The Gift of Taking Refuge in the Present Moment

The beauty of this practice is that it grounds you in the present moment, and this provides welcome relief from ruminating about the past and worrying about the future.

How to Help Someone With Anxiety

By Alice Boyes Ph.D. on July 13, 2016 in In Practice
Practical tips for helping a friend with anxiety (or spouse/family member). Much of the advice also applies to how to help someone with depression.

Say These 3 Words to Overcome Your Anxiety

These THREE words will turn the tables on your anxiety by helping you use it to accomplish great things!

Will Augmented Reality Be the New Therapy?

Can augmented reality gamify mental health treatment?

Stop, Drop, and Panic

As someone that has always appeared calm on the outside, while internally choking on my panic on the inside, I knew that my story was just absurd enough.

Breathing Techniques for Anxiety

By Alice Boyes Ph.D. on July 12, 2016 in In Practice
Get instant stress and anxiety relief using these simple breathing exercises.

The Psychological Pros and Cons of Pokémon Go

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on July 12, 2016 in Urban Survival
Could the new game craze help social anxiety and depression? Catching Pokémon might have more rewards than you think.

The Talk You Must Have Before Your Kid Goes to College

Getting your child ready for college doesn’t just mean arranging dorms and paying tuition, it means having an upfront talk about mental health.

Fear Keeps Depression in Place

Facing fear is one of the great challenges in life, and not facing fear is a great cause of depression.